Who to look out for in the women’s events at the European Championships in Zurich
You might have only just caught your breath after some exciting athletics action at the Commonwealth Games, but there’s more in store as the 22nd European Championships take place in Zurich from August 12-17.
Here’s a quick look ahead to what to watch out for in the women’s events. For our full in-depth preview grab a copy of the August 7 edition of Athletics Weekly which is available here, or digitally here.
You can find our online men’s events preview here.
Sprints and hurdles
Dafne Schippers has put the multi-events on the back-burner for the time being to focus on the sprints in Zurich and has recently run 11.03 for 100m and 22.34 for 200m. GB athletes Jodie Williams and Bianca Williams, ranked second and third over 200m in Europe respectively, will be brimming with confidence post-Commonwealth Games, while world junior 100m champion Dina Asher-Smith will be looking to make her mark in her first senior championship as an individual over 200m.
At the other end of the career spectrum, Christine Ohuruogu has admitted she’s having an easier year to recharge the batteries, but a last-minute qualifier of 51.66 in Loughborough shows the world champion is in reasonable shape. Italian champion Libiana Grenot is the only sub-51 runner in Europe this year.
Eilidh Child just missed out on the Commonwealth title but the world finalist should close in on the European title, assuming there is something left in the tank post-Glasgow. The British team also has medal prospects in the 100m hurdles, which could boil down to a shootout between French record-holder Cindy Billaud and world bronze medallist Tiffany Porter.
Middle and long distance
The standout event will be the 1500m with Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands and Abeba Aregawi from Sweden going head-to-head. Laura Muir and Laura Weightman, ranked third and fourth respectively in Europe, arrive in Zurich after mixed fortunes at the Commonwealth Games. Olympic 800m bronze medallist Ekaterina Poistogova is the favourite for the two-lap event, while reigning champion Lynsey Sharp and Jess Judd are also part of a dwindling group of women with sub-2:00 season’s bests.
Britain’s Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasdale, assuming the latter has recovered from a leg injury, will be in the hunt for medals over 5000m and 10,000m, while Emelia Gorecka is also ranked inside the top-five in Europe over 5000m. Ana Dulce Felix from Portugal defends her 10,000m title in Zurich.
World silver medallist Valeria Straneo from Italy will be the favourite in the marathon ahead of the very experienced Albina Mayorova, although her Russian team-mate Anisya Kirdyapkina is the favourite to claim her first major championships title in the 20km walk. In the steeplechase, Charlotte Fougberg from Sweden and Sandra Eriksson from Finland are the only two runners with sub-9:30 season’s bests.
Jumps and throws
Despite the absence of Olympic champion Anna Chicherova through injury, the high jump will still be one of the most keenly contested finals of the week, as seven women arrive with season’s bests in the 1.98-2.00m range. Can Blanka Vlasic regain the title she won back in 2010?
The long jump is similarly competitive with five centimetres separating the top seven-ranked jumpers in Europe, while over in the triple jump and Ekaterina Koneva from Russia starts as one of the most clear-cut favourites of the championships. Lisa Ryzih from Germany, Ekaterini Stefanidi from Greece and Anzhelika Sidorova from Russia are the only three European pole-vaulters to have cleared 4.70m outdoors this year.
Sandra Perkovic from Croatia hasn’t been beaten by a European discus thrower in over four years and will be looking to continue her dominance. In the shot put, Christina Schwanitz leads the European rankings by the best part of one metre ahead of Halyna Obleshchuk from Ukraine. Former champion Linda Stahl from Germany leads the javelin rankings with 67.32m but world record-holder Barbora Spotakova looks primed to win her first ever European title after two minor medals. In the hammer, Betty Heidler has a 5-2 head-to-head record over Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland this year.
With Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dafne Schippers both absent, Nadine Broersen will be looking to take advantage and add the European outdoor title to her world indoor title.
Despite the absence of a few big names, the overall standard has been high in Europe with six women surpassing the 6400 barrier in 2014. Also watch out for 19-year-old Nafissatou Thiam from Belgium, who has upped her PB to 6508, and a strong German trio including Olympic silver medallist Lilli Schwarzkopf.